Commuters suffered for hours as the city experienced a terrible traffic gridlock on Monday as students of different schools and colleges blocked the busy Airport Road to protest the death of two fellow students in a tragic road crash on Sunday.
The city dwellers were equally shocked by the extent of the recklessness of the drivers on the road and the immense sufferings caused by the blockade put up by the agitating students demanding punishment to the delinquent drivers.
Service-holders, students, businessmen and patients faced a nagging traffic jam across the city as vehicular movement came to a halt due to the road blockade.
Many commuters had to walk to their destinations with the women, children and elderly persons suffering the most on the roads.
Hundreds of vehicles, mostly passenger buses, remained stuck on both sides of the busy Airport Road since the morning.
“Students have been blocking the road since Monday morning,” said Cantonment police SI Umme Salma. “Police in the area are trying to bring the situation under control,” the police official added.
“Traffic on the important Dhaka thoroughfare was blocked for several hours,” said Abdul Ahad, additional deputy commissioner of Dhaka Metropolitan Police’s Gulshan Circle.
The traffic gridlock on the Airport Road severely disrupted traffic movement on many other busy roads and thoroughfares including Badda via Kuril Biswa Road, Rampura, Hatirjheel, Malibagh-Mouchak, New Market, Farmgate and Mirpur.
The traffic impasse in the city also affected the long-distance journey between the capital and other parts of the country.
While most airliners postponed their scheduled flights, many hajj pilgrims missed their flights due to the long tailback on the Airport Road.
Witnesses said thousands of students of different schools and colleges took to the streets at around 10:00 am and blocked the busy Airport Road, disrupting traffic movement.
Students of Shaheed Ramiz Uddin School and College formed a human chain in front of their college at around 10:00 am, demanding justice for the tragic death of their two fellows.
During the demonstration, the students chanted slogans demanding punishment of the killer bus driver. Later, students of other school and colleges joined the demonstration.
The schools and colleges include BAF Shaheen College, Kurmitola, Government Science College, Nawab Habibullah Model School & College, Bangabandhu College and Banani Bidya Niketan School and College.
As police obstructed them from staging demonstrations near the Radisson Hotel, they brought out a rally and put up barricade on the road.
Earlier on Sunday, two students of Shaheed Ramiz Uddin Cantonment College were killed as a speedy bus hit them on Airport Road of the capital.
The deceased were identified as Abdul Karim, 16 and Diya, 15. Twelve others were injured in the accident.
Of them, six were hospitalised at Kurmitola General Hospital nearby the spot and the rest six at Combined Military Hospital (CMH).
The accident took place on the road adjacent to the Radisson Hotel near Zillur Rahman flyover connecting the Airport Road with Mirpur.
Enraged by the death of their two fellow students, the students vandalised several vehicles and set fire to two buses, including the killer one.
RAB-1 detained two drivers and two helpers of two buses in connection with the tragic incident.
One of the two deceased’s father filed a murder case against Jabale Noor Paribahan for causing the death through reckless driving, said Cantonment Police SI Umme Salma.
Unbridled accidents and huge loss of life in the capital and other parts of the country prompted Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to issue directives to transport owners to impart training to drivers and other subordinate staffs and ensure their rest after eight hours of duty.
On June 25, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina had issued a series of directives, including the appointment of substitute drivers for long-haul vehicles but transport owners have not taken any initiative to comply with the orders.
The premier issued the order as a least 39 people were killed in road accidents in 12 districts on June 23 after the Eid holidays were over.
Reckless driving violating the traffic rules continues on city roads and flyovers, posing a threat to motorists, pedestrians and commuters, city dwellers said.
Even the prime minister’s directives to end reckless and rash driving are going unheeded, they alleged.
At least 4,284 people, including 516 women and 539 children, were killed and 9,112 others injured in 3,472 road accidents across the country in 2017, according to sources.